FlyingTypers Logo
   Vol. 19 No. 53
Wednesday July 22, 2020
The Purpose and Power of Qatar Cargo
Qatar Cargo 747

There is no question that when purpose is attached to power, magic can happen.
     Right now, Doha-based Qatar Airways Cargo is the largest carrier in the region, having surpassed the likes of Emirates and others in the Middle East who by comparison seem as if they are moving in the slow lane.
     As you read this in mid-July 2020, Qatar Airways Cargo has actually taken things further and now stands alone as the number one air cargo carrier in the world.
     Not since Ram Menen led the Dubai-based Emirates’ cargo fortunes in the 1990s has the industry seen such a meteoric rise in the fortunes of a carrier.
     Today, despite a cruel and unjust blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, and a global pandemic that has wiped nearly everyone else off the map, Qatar from tiny Doha has expanded and risen like the legendary phoenix.
Akbar Al Baker      At the center of it all resides top management: Akbar Al Baker, the airline’s extremely hands on chief executive and Guillaume Halleux, the chief officer cargo.
     Soft spoken but always bright and appealing, Guillaume came into the business working alongside cargo people in Paris, France, handling logistics for the Air France Concorde.
     During the past five years in QR, Guillaume has quietly and in a very unassuming manner guided his cargo team to the top of the world, even through the aforementioned blockade and now the worst global pandemic in recent history.
     Now Guillaume believes this is a seminal time for advancing change.

Feet Up in Command

Guillaume Halleux     We are having a video call. It is 0600 in New York City and 1400 in Doha, just after lunch.
     I am sitting on a couch that blessedly does not have a bookcase behind it as maybe 99 percent of every video meeting from home has these days.
     While making sure there is no toothpaste on my face, looking into my screen at myself I do notice the reproduction panel from Arshille Gorky’s “Aviation under Aerodynamic Limitations” is easily visible. The iconic mural was created for LaGuardia Airport, then lost in the 1940s before it was found in Newark by a man named Stephen Stempler.
     I have always loved the art and also the title of the work.
     Guillaume says hello from an office filled with airplanes and artwork. He assures me that although I cannot see it, he has his feet up on his desk as he speaks.
     We both agree that this new world of video meetings is novel fun, and since neither one of us is travelling much these days, the form that must be used might as well be enjoyed with a caveat.
     “The future of this type of communication is hybrid,” Guillaume declares. “You will always need face to face.”
     “You are in the USA; I am in Doha. If we can meet face to face a couple of times a year and the rest of the time like this, I think it’s OK.”


Challenges & Topping Global Air Cargo

     “I thought the blockade was tough; I thought the volcanic ash incident of some years ago was difficult, but COVID-19 has just been insane.
     “It has been pure hell,” Guillaume declared.
     As we spoke came the dramatic news that Qatar Airways Cargo had donated a charity lift of one million kilos (two million pounds) capacity to customers serving humanitarian efforts around the world.
     Readers might recall that as COVID-19 took hold in China earlier this year, Qatar Airways launched a humanitarian effort and sent a fleet of freighters to China with PPE equipment to help the stricken people in Wuhan. So, this latest effort would be the second time during the pandemic that the flagship airline of one of the smaller nations in the world reached out to help others by punching way above its weight.
     “The idea came to me a couple years ago,” Guillaume said.
     “On vacation with my wife and children in Kenya we were actually overcome with the extreme poverty there.
     “My wife wondered what we could do to help and lit upon the idea of leaving everything we owned except the clothes on our backs.
     “So, we flew home with empty suitcases, but our hearts filled with the certainty to never cast a blind eye to the needs of others.
     “Now as Qatar Airways becomes the largest air cargo carrier in the world, our responsibility to help others is magnified in my mind.”

Guillaume Halleux Atar Cargo largest air cargo carrier

Braggadocio Stopped at the Door

     “We are by no means ever going to be strutting around, arrogant about our position in the air cargo business. Rather, our team has been charged from top to bottom to never forget that the people and partners in our business and markets play an important part in our success.
     “Our thought now is that our leadership role also comes with responsibility.
     “We plan to make things better for people and air cargo by actioning truly innovative new ideas and programs that will help people and inspire further initiatives.
     “Our million-kilo effort here is in reality ‘Chapter One’ of an ongoing outreach program with similar initiatives in the wings, including a greatly enhanced & wide-ranging environmental program and other surprises that will continue throughout the rest of 2020.”

Exceed the Need

     “There is no question that in this current environment and looking ahead, solidarity is more important than ever.
     “It may seem hardly original that we have approached our business partners with thanks for their support and have given them tonnage to help a charity of their choice.”

We Qare

     “The plan [branded ‘We Qare’ by the airline] has worked,” Guillaume said.
     “We have already heard back from companies that have been allotted 10 or 50 tons who are enthusiastically onboard and want to talk about it.
     “We are thrilled about spreading the word via various companies big and small, because words can lead to actions that might in some way change the landscape a bit and make our industry better.”

What do You Want to Happen?

     “I want air cargo to collectively be much more efficient and aware of the world around us as an industry.
     “There is too much waste in what we do.
     “In the air cargo industry, a product that would serve as stand-by cargo to utilize unfilled space on flights does not really exist,” Guillaume said.

With Charity for People in Need

     “Occasionally—ourselves included—a company develops a space available product, but as an industry a way to fill empty space on flights does not universally exist, and it should.”

Guillaume Halleux-We Qare

Customer Country in July 2020

      “The conversation right now is that we are in this for the long run,” Guillaume said.
      “This COVID is not going to go away.
      “Air cargo has taken a massive hit on belly capacity, which used to represent 60 percent of our total lift worldwide.”

Capacity Crunch

      “Despite some claims that rates have dropped, the truth is that capacity restraints have jacked up rates that will remain high for the next 18 to 24 months, or at least until passengers—who are not willing to travel now—return.
      “So, the capacity will not come back quickly, affording tremendous leverage for freighter operators or for operators like United Airlines, which has cargo expertise.
      “United has no freighters, but is doing superbly in this business right now moving cargo,” Guillaume Halleux declared.
      “The action, if you look at the broad landscape, is where it was prior to the shutdown.
      “China is back to manufacturing, but you must remember while the output is there from China, the capacity to implement airborne activity has been cut by 60 percent.
      “So even if your numbers are currently down by 30 percent, you still have more demand than supply under the current scenario.”

Guillaume Halleux on video meetings

About Virtual Meetings

      “It seems I am in a meeting all the time.
      “Today is quieter than yesterday [Sunday], when we conducted maybe ten virtual meetings.
      “Prior to COVID, we would have maybe a dozen meetings a day face to face, back to back.
      “What I like about virtual is that it is quite punctual; in fact, it is always on time, start to finish. By comparison, face to face allows for time to pass by almost unnoticed.
      “Technology for the virtual platform works 90 percent of the time or better; picture and sound are OK.”

Caught with Your Pants Down

      “The informality aspect of the virtual dress code can catch you at times.
      “My team caught me during one virtual encounter while working from home.
      “While my upper body was all trim and proper in a business shirt, as I stood up to quickly turn down the A/C, everyone saw that I was wearing a pair of relaxed, comfortable shorts.
      “So, I took quite a working over from my team who thought that incident was hilarious.
      “As mentioned earlier, you will never replace face to face, but the future will find room for more virtual encounters.”

Guillaume Halleux on digitalization

Hopscotching the World

      “Asia is still quite strong, especially Southeast Asia right now, because this is the area that is driving the PPE shipments all over the world.
      “China as we said is back to some sort of normal.
      “Europe has come back strong as has India.
      “But India has zero belly capacity and needs every single air cargo flight it can get.
      “The good old USA, the greatest market in the world, is rebounding nicely given the circumstances.
      “I am aware of all the downsides and recognizing the pain and suffering COVID-19 has caused all over the world, I cannot help but wonder how much better we might have been able to handle all the challenges of built in roadblocks that hamper the movement of cargo.”

The Paperwork Jungle

      “COVID-19 has made it apparent right now what a huge and detrimental handicap we must bear as an industry, suffering every day underneath the paperwork jungle that never stops impacting our business.
      “Digitalization and uncomplicating the air cargo industry must be among our no-holds-barred goals ahead.
      “We must find a way,” Guillaume Halleux declared.

CharlieAll in the Family

      “We are all here, my wife and two children. Usually we are in America or France this time of year, but this go around we have drawn together with our new best friend, a dog we adopted from the shelter.
      “We take turns walking him but must avoid daytime because the pavement burns his feet. He is a mixed breed; we call him a ‘Doha Special’ when someone asks.
      “Dogs are wonderful spirits and I especially appreciate that their only priority when they look at you centers upon wondering ‘what’s up?’
      “We have also taken to cooking more elaborate meals that we all enjoy thinking up and preparing, so I suppose the day of reckoning will see the need to lose a few kilos.
      “I have found some time to takes lots of pictures. I built a photo studio on the top floor of our home here. I love photography, so it’s nice to be surrounded by a handsome and willing family during this time.”

We Qare video

The Message

      “If there is one thing we would appreciate as takeaway here it is our charity effort ‘We Qare,’” Guillaume emphasized.
      “Everyone here both up at the top and all along the various aspects of our company have embraced this initiative.
      “As we move forward and unveil the various other aspects of ‘We Qare’ my guess is that people will love it even more.”
      As we said our goodbyes, it occurred to me that I had just had the luxury of an open and quite frank discussion with a top executive at the number one air cargo airline in the world, and despite the rapid rise to the top Guillaume Halleux remains remarkably humble and down to earth.
      He is considerate, open, frank, and kind, with a lovely capacity for open communication in an engaging and approachable manner.
      If a virtual meeting can be viewed as opening a door to better understanding, for some moments I opened the door to a brave new world.


If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
FlyingTypers Vol. 19 No. 50
Vol. 19 No. 50
Air Cargo Hope of the World
Christmas In June
Chuckles for July 4, 2020
Baseball High as the Flag on July 4

Vol. 19 No. 51
TIACA Miami Can Wait for 2021
TIACA Back Pages

Vol. 19 No. 52
Dog Days of Summer 2020
Letters To The Editor

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

fblogoSend comments and news to geoffrey@aircargonews.com
Opinions and comments expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher but remain solely those of the author(s).
Air Cargo News FlyingTypers reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and content. All photos and written material submitted to this publication become the property of All Cargo Media.
All Cargo Media, Publishers of Air Cargo News Digital and FlyingTypers. Copyright ©2018 ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
More@ www.aircargonews.com

recycle100% Green